Playing slot games online or in a casino is exciting and fun, and nothing beats the rush when you match those symbols across the reels and hit the jackpot. While you are playing your favourite slots at Virgin Games, it might be educational to learn a bit about the background of slot machines, the history of how they were invented, and the way that technology has impacted the way we play.
Early Slot Machines
The first mechanical machine that featured dials and a drum was invented back in 1887. Sittman and Pitts created a machine that featured five drums and 50 playing cards, and to win you had to create a particular poker hand. This didn’t pay out any cash, but the bartender would often give you a beer if you won.
The first ‘proper’ slot machine was created by Charles Fey, a car mechanic from San Francisco. His three-reel machine had symbols instead of cards – diamonds, hearts, spades, and a cracked Liberty Bell. There was one pay line in the middle, and if you hit the jackpot of three Liberty Bells, you won 50 cents.
Charles Fey struggled to meet demand for his invention, and with the ever-changing laws around casino gaming in the US, Herbert Mills created the Operator Bell machine in 1907. This homage to the original dispensed fruit flavoured gum and candy instead of cash to those who won, with fruit symbols being the reason that they became known as fruit machines.
Bally, a well-known pinball machine manufacturing company, became the first to create an electromechanical slot machine in 1964. Named Money Honey, this was the earliest example of a slot machine where the reels were powered by electricity instead of mechanical gears and pulleys. You would still pull the lever to play, however – so the One-Armed Bandit was still an apt name.
Other manufacturers soon followed suit, and Vegas game rooms became more electronic.
When Atari released the video game Pong in 1971, the gaming boom really started. Video games and arcades exploded in popularity, and everyone wanted a piece of the action – including slot machine manufacturers.
Bu 1976, the first video slot game had appeared in the Las Vegas Hilton – Fortune Coin, which featured a 19” Sony CRT television as a display unit.
As popularity for these new slot machines grew, so did the inventiveness of the manufacturers such as https://www.aw-gaming.com/ – and progressive jackpots became the next big thing. Interconnected machines in a game room would take a small proportion of each wager on the machines, growing the jackpot that was available until someone in the room won – and then it would reset. Megabucks by IGN was one of the first to have this feature.
In 1996, Reel ‘Em In by WMS Industries added a second screen to their video slots which allowed for a separate bonus game to be played.
In 1996, the Isle of Man-based Microgaming created the software that meant online casinos could exist on the burgeoning internet. Early iterations of this only included table games, but when they created Cash Splash, the first online jackpot slot game, the world of casino gaming changed forever.
Now, video game technology that was enhancing player experience on consoles and PCs for titles like Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog could be used to create online slot games based on any number of different themes.
Players could join an online casino and play on slots from home – and still get the rush of excitement when they win real cash.
Slot machines have seen improvements, too. Today’s machines, even in the depths of Las Vegas gaming rooms, are essentially computer cabinets with full access to all the latest innovations – from algorithms ensuring true random for fairness, to the latest in 2D and 3D graphics, exploding and expanding symbols, and cascading reels that all add to the sense of fun.
More people in the world own a smartphone than a PC – and this is part of the reason why the global mobile gaming industry is such a big revenue generator.
Online casinos have taken this on board, creating native applications for both Android and Apple phones that mean players can get access to their favourite slot games from wherever they are. It is quick, convenient, and accessible – and that has become even more apparent thanks to the extensive global rollout of the 5G network. Now, you don’t even need your phone to be connected to the Wi-Fi to be able to get online and play your favourite slot games – so you can spin the reels while you wait for the bus or get some relaxation in the canteen at work.
Our fascination with games of chance and our dalliances with Lady Luck show that even into the future, we are going to enjoy playing slots – and there will be more and more innovations to keep us entertained while we do.